Sally Oldfield, Nature and Conservation Manager, and Barry Emerson, Parks and Open Spaces Manager, Environment and Regeneration Department were present and made a presentation to the Committee (copy interleaved)
During the presentation the following main points were made –
· A Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) is an internationally recognised template for protecting and restoring the natural environment. There is a UK BAP and a London BAP and each London Borough aims to have its own BAP. The new Islington BAP is the third for Islington, and covers the period 2020-25.
· Diversity is important for health and wellbeing, for young people, eco-system services, biodiversity and economics, and climate change
· Key priorities in Islington’s BAP – to conserve existing habitats, biodiversity features and species, improve/enhance the condition of existing areas of habitat, create new habitats or increase the extent of existing habitats, engage the whole community in reducing environmental inequality by increasing access to green spaces
· Four action plans – the built environment, Parks and Urban green spaces, designated sites and access to nature
· Built Environment Action Plan – includes maintain and enhance street trees, maximise biodiversity gains from new developments, requiring installation of green roofs on new developments and Council buildings, encourage sustainable urban drainage systems, identify opportunities to green streets through development of pocket parks and other improvements
· Parks and Open spaces Action Plan – Islington has the smallest amount of greenspace per head of population of any London Borough. However, it has the second highest number of parks. The plan includes – protect and enhance new wildlife habitats in parks and open green spaces e.g. housing estates, protect and enhance trees in parks and open spaces, ensure wildlife habitats are managed effectively, collate species data, and protect and enhance features for London BAP priority species
· Designated Sites Action Plan – Review Sites of Nature Conservation Importance (SINC) data to ensure accurate and up to date, strengthen network through the adoption of new and upgraded SINC’s, liaise with Network Rail on the protection of rail side SINC’s, action to reduce areas of deficiency in access to nature
· Access to Nature Action Plan – raise awareness of biodiversity through public events, enable people from under - represented groups to take part in biodiversity activities, encourage and support community action for wildlife, provide volunteering activities, aim to provide every child in Islington with the opportunity to experience high quality outdoor environmental education, encourage biodiversity on housing estates, provide residents with guidance on wildlife gardening, enable people to derive the health and wellbeing benefits of contact with nature
· Online consultation – consultation has taken place and there was strong support for BAP and this was adopted by Executive in September 2020 and is available on Council website
· Examples of new projects – Octopus Community network to develop a gardening and food growing programme, new funding bid to develop a partnership with Camden that will deliver green space benefits, with voluntary sector and an ambitious new bulb planting project on housing estates across the borough. Projects include Freeling Street Pocket Park Project, Parks for Health Project and a capital spend project to improve biodiversity on the New River, new leaflet on birds in Islington Parks
· In response to a question regarding Bulb planting, and whether this included TMOs it was stated that Housing had directly funded this scheme and that the Committee could be updated as to whether this included TMOs[DP1]
· It was stated that housing estates presented an opportunity to increase diversity in areas that are deficient in greenspace
· In response to a question it was stated that the expectation was that there would be no loss of biodiversity at Dixon Clark Court
· Reference was made to the fact that 17% of residents in the borough lived in areas of deficiency, where greenspace or biodiversity was insufficient, and there is a need to increase biodiversity in these areas, and that housing estates were key in this
· In response to a question as to whether there is an opportunity to comment on planning applications in relation to biodiversity, it was stated that the Council were always looking for biodiversity net gains, and they are invited comment on applications. There is also a dedicated trees officer who comments on applications
· In response to a question as to BAME and disadvantaged groups not accessing greenspace, it was stated that awareness needed to be raised in the community. Reference was made to the Parks for Health Project, which is looking to get businesses and communities involved and that the Council’s Equalities team were looking at the barriers to BAME and disadvantaged groups accessing greenspace. There were also social prescribing initiatives and events.
· A Member referred to the need to look into issues around sustainable drainage and that greenspaces should be pesticide free. In response the officer stated that at present there is no policy in place on this, however sites are managed carefully to protect wildlife. Officer acknowledged that there is a scheme in place for sustainable drainage, and important to think creatively with developers so as to ensure water conservation
· Reference was made by a member of the public about pocket parks and the need to involve the community in this. It was stated that officers would respond on details of this.
The Chair thanked Sally Oldfield and Barry Emmerson for their presentation
[DP1]Is this something Sally should email Ola before the next meeting?